Sonoma County Justice Court records, 1904-1976

Finding aid author: Mark Cooper.
Published by the Sonoma County Library
Published Feb 28, 2011
Sonoma County Library
6135 State Farm Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Sonoma County Justice Court records, 1904-1976

Sonoma County Library

Overview of the Collection

Collection Title: Sonoma County Justice Court records,
Date (inclusive): 1904-1976
Identification: SCG.00058
Creator: California. Justice Court (Sonoma County)
Physical Description: 6 volumes
Language of Materials: English
Repository: Sonoma County Library Archives
Sonoma County Library
6135 State Farm Drive
Rohnert Park, CA 94928
Abstract: This collection contains crminal and civil justice dockets of the Sonoma County Justice Court, including records of other justice courts under the County Court's jurisdiction

Court History

Biography/Organization History

Prior to June 1998, California's trial courts consisted of Superior and Municipal courts, each with its own jurisdiction and with its number of judges fixed by the Legislature; prior to 1934, the Sonoma County Justice Court was one of fifteen such inferior courts in the County. The Justice Court (also known as the County Justice's Court; more formally designated as the State of California's Justice Court for Sonoma County), had jurisdiction over several smaller courts in the County, including Sonoma , Vallejo, Petaluma and Mendocino townships.
The County court, like other justice courts, was an inferior local tribunal for the adjudication of minor causes and the preservation of the peace. By the Act of March 16, 1850, which divided up the state into judicial districts, "the term of office of a justice of the peace was fixed at one year. Two justices were allowed to each township, also two constables, the officers who serve the processes of the court. The jurisdiction of a justice extended to the limits of the township for which he was elected. He had cognizance of actions on contract, for damages, and to recover specific property, when the amount or value did not exceed $200. In 1851, his powers were considerably increased. He had jurisdiction of actions to recover money, for damages to personal property, for fines, penalties and forfeitures, actions on bonds, enforcement of lien on personal property, actions to recover personal property and judgment by confession, where the amount in all these cases did not exceed $8,500, and on a bond taken by him if the amount did exceed that sum, cases of forcible entry and detainer, and the trial of the right of mining claims. The criminal jurisdiction embraced vagrancy, disorder, petty larceny, assault and battery, breaches of the peace, and all misdemeanors punishable by a fine of not more than $500 and not more than one year's imprisonment. In 1863, forcible entry and detainer cases were transferred to the county court, and the civil jurisdiction was reduced to amounts not exceeding $300. In 1870, the jurisdiction of cases of misdemeanor was extended to fines of $1,000 and imprisonment for one year: but in 1874 it was reduced to fines of $500 and six months' imprisonment. In 1863, the term of office of justices and constables was increased to two years. The new constitution preserved the justice courts as before." (source: Wells, Harry Laurenz, 1854-1940. History of Butte County. San Francisco : H. L. Wells, 1882.)
The County Justice Court was active until 1976. A number of reorganizations and consolidations of the County's court system took place over the next two decades until the various inferior courts were absorbed into the Superior Court following the voter-authorized reorganization in 1998, California Proposition 220.

Scope and Contents

Official records of the County Justice Court

Arrangement of the collection

Organized into three series:
  1. Civil justice docket, 1904-1976
  2. Criminal justice docket, 1922-1965
  3. Speed record, 1935
Arranged chronologically within each series.

Access Terms

This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Topical Terms

Civil procedure--California--Sonoma County
Criminal justice, Administration of--California--Sonoma County

Genre and Format Terms

Civil court records
Criminal court records
Registers (lists)
Judicial records
County government records
Archival materials

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Conditions Governing Access:

Materials stored offsite, but collection is open to research. In many cases, further details on individual volumes can be found by calling staff at the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library. To view these materials, please call staff at 707 308-3212 to request they be brought from the Archives to the Library

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the Sonoma County Library. The Sonoma County Library has made this collection available and believes that the collection is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Collection may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries. Preferred credit line is: Courtesy, the Sonoma County Library. Please see additional reproduction and reuse information at

Preferred Citation:

Sonoma County Justice Court records, 1904-1976. SCG.00058, Sonoma County Archives, Sonoma County Library, Rohnert Park, California.

Arrangement of Materials:



SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00058.01
Series 1. Civil justice docket 1904-1976

Series content list:
13 Nov 1962-26 Jan 1965 : Civil justice docket, Sonoma Township : ARCHIVES CABINET 27 : Accession [????]
[coverage undetermined] : ARCHIVES ROW 2 BIN 1
[coverage undetermined] : ARCHIVES ROW 2 BIN 2
[coverage undetermined] : ARCHIVES ROW 2 BIN 5
[coverage undetermined] : ARCHIVES ROW 2 BIN 6
Physical Description:
Extent: 21 volumes

Scope and Contents

Archives Row 2, Bins 1, 2, 5 and 6 contain multiple volumes
Includes records from the justice courts under the supervision of the County Justice Court: Santa Rosa Township, 1908-1928, 1975-1976; Mendocino Township, 1916-1918; Petaluma Township, 1904-1906, 1944; Sonoma Township 13 Nov 1962-26 Jan 1965

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00058.02
Series 2. Criminal justice docket 1922-1965

Series content list:
Vol. 28 . Cases 3512-3810 ( 1922-09 - 1923-03 ) : Criminal Justice Docket : ARCHIVES CABINET 37 : Accession 2735
Vol. 56 . Cases 830-2266 ( 1940-06-24 - 1943-01-28 ) : Criminal Justice Docket : ARCHIVES CABINET 28 : Accession 2323
1946/1948 ( 1946-09-30 - 1948-02-03 ) : Criminal Docket : ARCHIVES CABINET 27 : Accession 2235
1958/1960 ( 1958-04-08 - 1960-06-30 ) : Criminal Docket : ARCHIVES CABINET 27 : Accession 2237
Physical Description:
Extent: 4 volumes

SCL Special Collections Control Number: SCG.00058.03
Series 3. Speed record 1935

Series content list:
1935/1935 ( 1935-02-10 - 1935-02-10 ) : Speed Record : ARCHIVES CABINET 27 : Accession 2234
Physical Description:
Extent: 1 volume